by Brandon Walsh
This article is being published in hopes of reaching some of the younger people, involved in our great sport of body building, reach their goals without making the great mistake of using steroids too early in their long lives. The problem with this is that most young bodybuilders (BBs) cannot grasp the concept of the future and how long the road ahead really is even with the use of steroids. How do you convince a 14 year old that it will take years before he can look like the Pro BB’s in the magazines, and that he may never look like that even with all the drugs available in the world. Well that is what I hope to accomplish within this article.
At what age should you be, before you consider using steroids? This question is not as easily answered as you may think it is. You cannot randomly just pick an age and say that this is the point at which you can now start to consider using steroids.
Between the ages of 12 and 26 a male’s hormone levels are on a steady rise until the age of 26. This is when these levels slowly start to decline until they are almost nonexistent by the ripe old age of 40.
When puberty starts in males at the age of 12 there is a huge flux in hormonal patterns in the body, which cause the growth of male characteristics, (deepening of the voice, growth of body hair, growth in height, etc.). These hormone levels increase by themselves so much that they can be compared to that of a mild steroid cycle. Therefore trying to add to what the body is doing on its own by adding in exogenous (outside) Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS) is very counter productive.
Whenever any extra amount of AAS is added to the body, the body recognizes this extra level through a feedback loop in the human body known as the Hypothalamus. Once the Hypothalamus recognizes the increase in hormones which happens usually between 14 and 21 days, the body will shut off its own production of hormones until these levels decrease, along with increasing hormones to decrease these extra levels in the body (cortisone, estrogen). Cortisone and Estrogen are 2 hormones in the body that BBs do not need any extra. The easiest way to try to explain this without getting to complicated, is that the more AAS you put in your body, the more your body will try to lower those levels. When this happens BBs get all the side effects that are normally associated with AAS use, gynecomastia (growth of fatty tissue underneath the breasts in males), hair loss, kidney damage, liver damage, and high blood pressure, just to name a few).
Before you consider the use of AAS you should have already reached your genetic potential. What is your genetic potential? To figure this out you should first look at the weight, height and build of other members in your family. Is this exact, no, but it is somewhere to start. If every male on both sides of your family is approximately 5’7″ and weighs between 150lbs and 170lbs and they are all bald by the age of 25, then it would be a good guess that you will also fall somewhere in those ranges by the time you stop growing. Now with working out and eating correctly for 4 years lets say, you would be able to put on 15 or more pounds of muscle tissue (that would mean you now weigh 165-185 lbs.). This is what your genetic potential would be. Now if you started to use steroids at that point, 165-185 lbs you may be able to put on another 15-20 lbs (180-200lbs). If you had started using when you were 125 lbs., and gained 25lbs through the use of steroids, you would still be well short of what you could have gotten naturally (150lbs as compared to 180-200lbs), and now it will be much harder to try to gain another 30-40lbs.
So for a starting point lets say that you need to be at least 18 years of age before you consider using steroids. Now that we have a starting point, lets look at a few other factors that should be considered. Steroids DO NOT IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM makes up for a good diet and workout program. Most people who use AAS feel that this is the time where they can be a little more relaxed in their workouts and diet. Actually this is when they should be even more strict. So before you can think of using at the age of 18, you will need 3 more solid years of good training and eating habits. Minor changes in diet and workouts can result in great gains in mass and muscle as well as strength.
No matter how much assistance you get from AAS, without proper nutrition and workouts you will be lucky to have any gains at all, let alone keep them after the cycle is over. The goal of using any substance, legal or not should be that after you stop using it you don’t loose all of that which you have fought to get. What would be the point of spending all that money (steroids are not free) to gain that 30lbs when you will loose it after the cycle is over anyway?
So the better question to ask instead of when can I take steroids, should be, what can I do to get all that I can out of my body without needing steroids?. In order to calculate my progress, I need to talk with my family and doctors, before I try to make a choice like that.
We will start with the age range of 14-16; this is when your hormones are raging. Your body is in full swing of making the best steroids that you can ever get, and it does all this without you even needing to do a single thing. At this point you should start with a solid exercise plan and a basic supplement plan in addition to the regular food that you need to be eating on a regular basis.
For workouts focus on the basic compound movements (Bench Press, Squats, Deadlifts, Barbell Curls, etc.) Working out 4 days a week with at least 8 hours of sleep a night is a great start. Add to that the extra protein that you should be taking and you will definitely start seeing a difference in your body. As for supplements, at this point all I would suggest is a good Meal Replacement Shake, multi-vitamin and creatine. Any shake will work, just add 2 shakes a day to the 3 solid meals that you should already be eating. Creatine has more benefits then I could start to explain in this article, but what I can say is that it will help your strength, muscle, speed, and recovery without any negative side effects.
By the age of 16-18 you will have had most of your growth spurts and you will be ready to change a few more things in your overall plan. You workouts can become a little more specialized as you start using different exercises. As for your nutrition program, all that I would think of adding now would be something such as extra glutamine before bed and maybe a ZMA supplement. You still don?t want to take anything that would alter what your body is doing on its own, so using ZMA and glutamine is just what you need.
Somewhere between 18 and 21 you should be just about done growing, so what should you do differently now? Add more protein! You should be getting at the very least, your body weight in grams of protein per day! And that?s at the very least! By now you will have been working out consistently for quite a while and should know your body very well. What will work and what won?t work should be old news. There isn?t really anything new to add to what is already a great program, other than Tribulus and maybe a pre-workout supplement such as Ultimate Orange. After this point, you can start to consider the use of steroids. What about them? Are they as terrible as everyone seems to think they are? As long as they are used correctly, I don?t think so. When considering their use, I feel that orals should be used as late as possible. These are most harmful on the body and therefore should not be used for a very long time.
Another thing to consider, other than the side effects I have already spoken of, is your sex drive. Some AAS will make your sex drive almost nonexistent and will have a big effect on your sperm count. These drugs in particular should try to be avoided. That leaves mild anabolics. Although they are the safest to use, they are expensive, illegal, and require the use of a needle. Which most first time users do not want to use.
I told you that this is not something that should be passed off very easily; you shouldn?t have to make the mistakes that most of us make by using steroids to early in your life. If used correctly, I think they are fine, but look at what it takes in order to use them correctly. Have you been working out for 5 years straight without more the 2 weeks off every 6 weeks? Do you eat every 2-3 hours, 6 times a day without missing a meal? Do you get 8 hours of sleep every night? This is something that can have a huge effect on your body for the rest of your life, so don?t make that choice in 10 minutes. Good luck and keep growing